The Things We Do For Love (of Sunderland). D-day nears …

Ask Jeremy 'Clock Stand Paddock' Robson where Sunderland play and he'll say 'Roker Park'
Ask Jeremy ‘Clock Stand Paddock’ Robson where Sunderland play and he’ll say ‘Roker Park’

Time to give readers a tap on the shoulder and remind them to come up with an entry in our Things We Do For Love contest.

You see the prize above – a magnificent print of Roker Park – and we have already had some excellent entries which can be seen at the earlier posts: https://safc.blog/category/salut-competition/ – and Monsieur Salut’s work will have his work cut out when he gets round to choosing a winner.

The deadline for entries is Tuesday December 13 and is intended to give plenty of time for the prize seen above to be posted for Christmas (our many overseas readers may be interested to hear that there us no restriction on where you’d want it sent though we obviously cannot be sure of delivery times) …

Otherwise, this is now we introduced the competition. Everyone except me, Salut! Sunderland contributors included, is eligible to enter …

The prize:

Whether you remember starting your Sunderland-supporting days in that wonderful if ultimately decrepit stadium, or have only the handed-down memories of older relatives and acquaintances, Roker Park is a name that evokes pride, passion and history.

The fine folk behind a firm selling a wide range of conceptual prints and artwork, all marketed as products called Dorothy though no one there bears that name, have kindly agreed to put up one print as a prize.

The title of the competition popped into my mind as I began a fortnight’s celebration of my 45th wedding anniversary. A fortnight? Well, as I explained in a post at the other Salut!, we had the register office formality in Bishop Auckland on October 30 1971 after which my bride promptly went home to France, where her mother did not recognise her as married until we’d had the blessing at a church in Le Mans, named after Joan of Arc, on November 16.

She still has her hair
She still has her hair

We spent the recent Arsenal weekend back up north and retraced various steps – the pub where we met, the house where Joelle was au pair to a ferocious 90-year-old and her cat, the Catholic presbytery where Joelle sought and was given refuge after the battleaxe kicked her out and, of course, the register office.

And it got me thinking about the various things I have done in my life out of love for Sunderland, things my wife has done out of love for me despite loathing football to facilitate that passion.

Salut Banner5(featured image)SAFC v Leicester City: see our incomparable buildup, including a prize Guess the Score and a fascinating ‘Who are You?’ interview, by going to the home page and navigating from there. Ha’way the Lads …

Travel features a lot in such memories, but so does manipulation. When employed, I often “organised” work around opportunities to see the Lads. These examples spring to mind …

* West Ham at home 1980 (2-0 to us to clinch promotion at Roker Park)

* Man City away 1980 (4-0 to us, John Hawley hat-trick)

* Bradford City away 1999 (1-0 to us – another promotion season with Quinn scoring the winner, then going in goal when Sorensen was injured)

* Man Utd at home, League Cup 2000 (the day after Shack died; we won 2-1)

As for Joelle, she puts up week after week with me catching the game as best I can if not actally there – internet, radio, live TV – even when we’ve been on anniversary or holiday breaks abroad.

She bought me a season ticket for the Stadium of Light thinking one season would get it out of my system (it was the first proper one I’d had since boyhood and the first of any kind apart from one, via the SAFCSA London branch, giving me a certain number of games for the last season at Roker Park). To Joelle’s dismay, I kept it for 10 years or more until the time I spent abroad finally made it seem idiotic.

Her indulgence of my passion goes further. She also organised a milestone birthday party at the ground which meant coming back from Abu Dhabi for a weekend; the party was on the eve of both a 3-0 home defeat to Man City, City’s Abu Dhabi takeover and one of the most torrential showers I have experienced.

There you have some snapshots of what I have done for love or had done for me out of love.


You will have stories
of your own: funny, sad, shaming, uplifting or any other sort.

Share them with us and the one arbitrarily chosen as best will win its author the print, which will be dispatched rolled up in a cardboard tube leaving the winner to buy a frame at his or her convenience (and cost!).

I’d be delighted if we had a bumper entry. Let the imagination run wild if necessary; just share your stories …

* The people at Dorothy – see their site here – describe the Roker Park colour litho print is described in this way:

‘The original 60 x 80cm version of our Roker Park print. Roker Park was home to Sunderland AFC (and its fabled black cat) for 99 years from 1898 to 1997.

The stadium, which once hosted crowds of 75,000-strong, was also home of the famed Roker Roar. Legend has it that in 1973 when Billy Hughes scored against Manchester City in an FA Cup tie the noise from the crowd could be heard six miles away. Sunderland played their final game at Roker Park on 13 May 1997 beating Liverpool 1-0 before moving to the Stadium of Light. Roker Park has since been demolished and replaced by housing.

Roker Park, Highbury, Maine Road and Wembley are four new ‘football’ additions to our Lost
Destination collection of prints. The series takes inspiration from the iconic travel posters of the first half of the 20th century, celebrating the unique but often forgotten beauty of buildings that in their heyday were destinations in their own right but have since been either immersed in the everyday or demolished.’

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